The Royal Liverpool Golf Club, fondly known as Hoylake, is steeped in history and renowned as one of the UK’s premier links courses. As the chosen venue for the 2023 Open Championship, meticulous preparation of the greens becomes paramount. To meet the high standards expected by players and spectators alike, a carefully curated blend of three specific grass species has been selected: Browntop Bent (Agrostis capillaris), Slender Creeping Red Fescue (Festuca rubra subsp. litoralis), and Chewings Fescue (Festuca rubra subsp. commutata). This article explores the reasoning behind choosing these grasses and their advantages in maintaining exceptional greens for the upcoming championship.
The Unique Demands of a Championship Links Course
Royal Liverpool’s links-style golf course earns renown for its fast-running, undulating fairways and challenging bunkers. The greens, a pivotal element in the game, require specific attention. They need to be firm, true-rolling and resilient enough to endure typical foot traffic of a British links course. Optimal playing conditions for the championship hinge crucially on selecting the right grass varieties that thrive in such an environment.
Golfers hail Browntop Bentgrass, also known as Colonial Bentgrass, for its fine leaf texture and exceptional putting surface. Its capacity to generate a tightly knit, dense turf facilitates smooth ball roll and true putting lines. Moreover, Browntop Bentgrass demonstrates remarkable drought tolerance and prospers in coastal regions with salt spray, rendering it an excellent choice for the Hoylake course, situated near the Irish Sea. The grass’s stress resistance and adaptability contribute to sustaining the greens throughout the championship.
Slender Creeping Red Fescue
Royal Liverpool uses Slender Creeping Red Fescue in its greens. This grass complements Browntop Bentgrass with its attractive, fine-textured appearance, enhancing the overall aesthetics of the greens. Besides its ornamental appeal, this species offers excellent drought resistance and has low nutrient requirements. Its fine, dense growth habit also aids in stabilising the sandy soil typical of links courses. This helps in reducing erosion and ensuring consistent ball roll even in windy conditions.
Completing the trio of grass species is Chewings Fescue, an adaptable cool-season grass renowned for its lush green hue and fine texture. Beyond its contribution to the visual allure of the greens, Chewings Fescue plays a pivotal role in enhancing the putting surface’s resilience. Its deep-rooted nature enables it to access water deeper in the soil, ensuring optimal water utilisation and reducing the risk of drought-induced stress during the championship. Furthermore, its moderate growth rate facilitates easier maintenance, allowing groundskeepers to achieve the desired putting speeds throughout the tournament.
Selecting the Blend
The selection of a specific grass blend for the greens at Royal Liverpool is not a haphazard decision. It demands careful consideration and expertise to create a harmonious combination that brings out the best characteristics of each species while compensating for their weaknesses. The chosen blend, featuring Browntop Bentgrass, Slender Creeping Red Fescue, and Chewings Fescue, achieves the perfect equilibrium between playability, appearance, and sustainability.
An Integrated Approach
Maintaining the greens at their prime condition requires diligent care and preparation. In the months leading up to the championship, the golf course maintenance team will follow a rigorous schedule of mowing, topdressing, and aerating the greens to encourage healthy growth and surface consistency. The team will meticulously monitor moisture levels to ensure adequate hydration without promoting disease.
Championship Standard Greens
The selection of the grasses at Royal Liverpool Golf Club reflects a commitment to providing the best possible playing conditions. This blend balances aesthetics, playability, and sustainability, creating putting surfaces that will challenge the world’s best golfers. The greens at Royal Liverpool Golf Club were elevated to new heights during this landmark event in 2023.